Trigg County Hospital Receives High Marks In Consultation

In the last five years, Trigg County Hospital has undergone more than just a facelift.

During Thursday’s Board of Trustees meeting, Rural Hospital Group consultants Darrel Morris and Trent Skaggs delivered an extensive and eye-opening report about the local health care provider’s trajectory within the last half decade — and where the organization needs to go in order to maintain what looks like a successful rebuild.

Morris visited the hospital’s campus in 2018, and reported that hospital officials had access to less than $450,000 in cash, a maxed line of credit, and a considerable debt load approaching $10 million.

As of this week, Morris said Trigg County Hospital has access to more than $9 million in unrestricted cash assets, less than $6 million in outstanding fixed debts — and a host of new acquisitions, both in property and in personnel, showing stark across-the-board improvements.

And the good news didn’t stop there.

In 2017, Trigg County Hospital’s reported operating revenue stood at $15.5 million, while 2022 is projecting north of $24 million. That’s a $9 million increase, and Morris noted that “$4 to $5 million” was par for similar Kentucky hospitals in the same time span.

From 2020 to 2022, surgeries at Trigg County Hospital increased from 380-ish to nearly 1,200 — or roughly a 300% jump. The addition of more than 15 specialists in the last five years, part-time and full-time, has given locals (and regional visitors) an in-house treatment option near Cadiz. New building acquisitions, considerable renovations and equipment upgrades have made this possible, as well.

Morris noted that on November 30, 2018, Trigg County Hospital’s accounts payable ledger exceeded $2 million. At the end of July 2022, that was down to $832,000. Average accounts receivables have dropped in that stretch, too: from 87 days in 2017 to 53 days as of this month.

Having consulted with 30 to 40 hospitals during their careers, Morris and Skaggs said Trigg County’s growth was “not typical.”

Skaggs elaborated on an extensive 2022 fall assessment from Kaufman Hall, in which the analysis firm assures that non-labor expenses will only continue to rise in 2022 and beyond, while expenses for purchased services and contracted vendors will only keep growing nationwide.

Supply and demand of pharmaceuticals will only drive prices higher, too, with those expenses to increase by $1 billion in the U.S. through 2022. Skaggs also pointed to the fact that inflationary concerns will only continue, and that federal reports indicate a 20-to-25% cost spike of pre-pandemic procedures could remain.

With faculty and staff weathering COVID-19, Skaggs said that addressing worker salaries should also become a top priority not just for Trigg County Hospital — but healthcare in general.

Skaggs also pointed to Trigg County’s prior prudence to pass an ambulance tax in 2018. Even now with its slight reduction from Trigg County Fiscal Court, it draws the ire of some.

Yet, the fund has reportedly done nothing but bring the facility from the brink of bankruptcy to this perceived prosperity, and Skaggs said it would behoove other local and regional governments to find ways to pump up public funding into affordable healthcare options.

Trigg County Hospital CEO John Sumner noted more improvements are on the way, with past improvements only aiding the return to a safe operating budget.

The trustees did close for executive session, in order to discuss “salaries” for their faculty and staff.